Isomorphic Mutation and Strategic Adaptation in China's CSR Standards for Overseas Investors

Ciprian Radavoi, Yongmin Bian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


At the beginning of the present decade, China has shown preoccupation with its overseas investors’ behaviour in fields like labour, human rights or the environment. Comprehensive, OECD-style environmental, social and governance standards were issued in 2012 by the overseas contractors’ association. One year later, however, the government issued specific, sectorial guidelines for the field of environmental protection only. The divide between industry associations’ approach, favouring comprehensive CSR, and the state’s, paying more attention to the field of environment in its guidelines for overseas operations, is also visible in other normative documents. This chapter focuses on the fields of contracting and mining, as among the most prone to environmental and social wrongdoing by corporations. It first reveals the different CSR approaches at government and industry level as paradoxical, since in China, the government is behind the business associations. The chapter then explains the differences using a theoretic framework that combines sociological neo-institutionalism, with its focus on isomorphism and mechanical alignment to taken-for-granted models, with more recent theories focused on agency. In this context, we discuss the suspicion of decoupling, i.e. adoption of policies that look good without a real intent of implementing them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResponsible Business in a Changing World
EditorsB Diaz Diaz, N Capaldi, S Idowu , R Schmidpeter
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-36970-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-36969-9
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameCSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance


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